July 15, Washington, DC: Sri Lanka was accorded the privilege of sharing the podium with distinguished U.S. statesmen and government officials at a public event organized by the United States' House of Representatives' House Democracy Partnership (HDP) on July 13.
The event titled 'Strong Legislatures as a Bulwark Against Autocracy' was co-hosted by HDP's Chairman Congressman Peter Roskam and Ranking Congress member David Price.
Sri Lanka's Ambassador in Washington Prasad Kariyawasam was invited to share Sri Lanka's experiences of how strong legislatures create stable governments and the critical role of the Parliament in the evolution of Sri Lanka's democratic practice and reforms.
In his remarks Ambassador Kariyawasam briefed on the developments since the 2015 presidential and parliamentary elections and as to how the democratic political transformation set in motion in the country has contributed to strengthening Sri Lanka's relations with the international community, including the United States. Links with United States have in turn been reinforced through collaboration between the legislatures of Sri Lanka and the United States, facilitated by the HDP.
The opening remarks at the event were delivered by former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is at present the Chairperson of the National Democratic Institute. Other speakers included former Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, Vice President of Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Thomas Carothers, former Chairman of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations Jim Kolbe, former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and Acting Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development Wade Warren.
The House Democracy Partnership is a bipartisan, twenty-member, commission of the U.S. House of Representatives that works directly with 21 partner countries to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislative institutions. The Partnership is assisted by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Republican Institute, and the National Democratic Institute.
The Sri Lanka Parliament and the House Democracy Partnership launched a Collaboration Agreement to strengthen partnership between the two legislatures in September during Speaker Karu Jayasuriya's visit to Washington D.C. Several exchange programs have taken place since, including a HDP congressional delegation led by Chairman Roskam visiting Sri Lanka in February.